Walmart, the site of an El Paso, Texas, shooting that left at least 21 dead, is now facing concerted pressure to stop selling firearms — a la Dick’s Sporting Goods.
It makes no sense.
But on social media, it’s a plea that sounds good — that sounds caring and compassionate and as if people are Doing Something to stop the killing.
Dick’s, as a brief reminder, announced back in March that it was going to quit selling guns in 125 of its 700 or so U.S. stores. That was after the company stopped selling firearms in 10 of its U.S. stores in 2018, as part of a test to see how the market would fluctuate. And that was after CEO Ed Stack in 2017, in response to the Parkland, Florida, school shooting, announced it would stop selling firearms to anyone under the age of 21, and to stop selling assault-style weapons at all.
The move wasn’t exactly sound business.
By the numbers, Dick’s net fourth-quarter income fell from $116 million in 2017 to $103 million in 2018, CBS News reported.
“The new company policy sparked a backlash from gun advocates among its consumers, making the already flagging sector a drag on the retailer. In its annual earnings report, the company noted that its hunting and electronics categories together led the drop in same-store sales,” CBS wrote in March.
What’s more: Dick’s snuffing of its firearms business didn’t even meet sound political muster. While Parkland shooter Nikolas Cruz had once purchased — legally — a shotgun at Dick’s, he didn’t use that particular shotgun he purchased from Dick’s in the school shooting.
Dick’s CEO was simply trying to cash in on public fears and pretend his company, of all the companies in the country, cared more.
Now social media is trying to pressure Walmart in the same vein.
When Walmart tweeted, “We’re in shock over the tragic events at Cielo Vista Mall in El Paso” and that “We’re praying for the victims,” entrepreneur Chris Sacca snarked back: “Hey @walmart, maybe you could, hmm, I don’t know, stop selling guns?”
Another wrote: “Amazon doesn’t sell guns. Maybe someone needs to lead a campaign to encourage switching until Walmart changes their policy.”
And still, another wrote: “Hoping this change is made. You shouldn’t be able to buy weapons and ammunition in the same place you buy your groceries.”
Why? And on that last, why not?
Thing is: Walmart stopped selling assault-style rifles in 2015 and raised its age of purchase for firearms to 21 in 2018.
And as CNN noted: “The kind of gun used in Saturday’s [Dayton, Ohio] attack has not been sold at Walmart in years.”
So what would a company-wide Walmart ban on gun sales accomplish?
Good question. Here’s the answer: It would make the anti-gun forces feel as if they’re doing something to stop the violence. It would give the anti-Second Amendment zealots a win. And it would make it harder for legal carriers and legal would-be carriers to buy firearms — something that would no doubt put smiles on the faces of the anti-gun forces and the anti-Second Amendment zealots.
But curbing violence?
Stopping gun-related murderous rampages?
It wouldn’t do a thing. A Walmart ban on sales of firearms wouldn’t change a thing on that score.
• Cheryl Chumley can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter, @ckchumley.
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